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Oenanthe crocata (L)                 Hemlock Water-Dropwort


: from Greek, plant smelling like the vine, from:
ainos: wine &        : anthos: flower.

crocota : from Greek, ________ : saffron coloured.

Hemlock : see Conium maculatum.
Dropwort : see Oeananthe aquatica.

OTHER NAMES : horse bane, water lovage, yellow water dropwort, deanís fingers. Beldrum
(Pemb). Bendock, (Kent). Cowbane.  (Yks). Bilders, (Corn, Dev, IoW). Deadmanís cresh,
(Dumf). Dead tounge, (Lancs, Weat, Cumb). Eltrot, (Wilts,Som) Five fingered rot, (Pemb, Glam).
Water sapwort, (Ang). Water  hemlock, (Suss, Cumb) . Wild rue, (Donegal). Deathin. (Som).

BSBI Picture Link to Oenanthe crocata


glabrous perennial. Poisonous. Grt. AROMA : of parsley. TASTE : Sweet taste.
ROOTS : cylindrical-obovoid tubers, 6 x lcm. Has yellowish juice, which stains hands.
STEM : hollow, grooved. Yellow juice. HEIGHT :: 150cm
UMBELS : compound, terminal. 5-10cm. diam. with (7)12-40 smooth rays (1.5)3-8 cm long.
Peduncle> than rays. Terminal hermaphrodite, lateral male Partial umbels not flat topped in fruit.
LEAVES : lower: 30cm 3(4) pinnate, sheathing petioles. Segments 1-2cm, ovate to suborbicular
in outline, crenate to pinnatifid, cuneate at the base, serrate, teeth obtuse or subacute with
minute apiculus. Upper: 1-2 pinnate, narrower segments with short sheathing petiole. Cotyledons
abruptly contracted into  a petiole.
BRACTS : 5, linear to 3-fid. Bracteoles 6 or more, caducous, linear lanceolate.
FLOWERS : white. Sepals ovate to triangular, acute, persistent, outer petals scarcely radia≠ting,
unequal. Styles form a stylopodium. F1 .6-7.
FRUIT : 4-5.5 mm cylindrical, rarely subovoid. Commisure broad. Mericarps with slender ridges. Carpophore present vittae solitary. Styles 2mm, erect 1/2 > as fruit. Stigma a small knob.2n=22*

HABITAT : wet places, brackish water. Calcifuge.

DISTRIBUTION: S.& W. Great Britain. Rare of a line E from from
  London to Inverness. Ireland except C.& W. W.Europe. N.W. Africa.

BSBI Distribution Map for Oenanthe crocata (UK)


Due to polyacetylenes. Active principle oenanthe- toxin, a convulsant, causes rapid death.
Symptoms: Great agony, sickness, convulsions, paralysing speech, death.

of mistaking leaves for celery, tubers for parsnip. A party of workers repairing
a breach in a towing path dug up a plant and ate them in their sandwiches in 3 hours they were
dead. 8 boys ate the roots, five died, other three had violent convulsions.

ANIMAL CASES : horse and cattle poisoning. symptoms: salivations, dilated pupils, spasmodic
convulsions. Pigs vomit and die suddenly. Sheep: 50% will recover. If sheep are chloroformed
to control spasms, nembutal can be injected.

Ehret, flower draughtsman, l8thC : when drawing the flower, it rendered him so giddy
he had to quit the room several times to recover.


Eruptions of the skin in small doses. Gall stones, tincture 1-5 drops. Whitlows & foul ulcers
in man & cattle, galled horses backs roots as poultice.


Farm poison for rats & moles.

EXTERNAL LINKS FOR Oenanthe crocata
>These links to trusted websites and institutions may provide in depth or additional information regards cultivation, chemistry, edibility, images etc. for the species. Links last updated Aug 2012.

Wikipedia (UK)    Bio Info (UK)     Hub Pages Journal (USA)    
National Center for Biotechnology Info (USA)       A Modern Herbal. M. Grieve (UK)
BIO Images (UK)    APHOTOFLORA (UK)    ABC Homeopathy (UK)

'Online Guide To Umbelliferae Of The British Isles' Compiled By J.M.Burton 2002